New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is seeking legal opinion on prosecuting India's former captain Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma for their involvement in match-fixing as they both are government employees. "We are evaluating evidence against Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma as both of them are public servants. We are trying to find whether they could be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). We have asked legal opinion on it," CBI joint director R N Sawani, who investigated the match-fixing scandal, told IANS. The CBI report that was made public on Wednesday names Azharuddin and Sharma along with opening batsman Ajay Jadeja and all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar for their involvement in match-fixing. While Azharuddin works for the State Bank of India (SBI), Ajay Sharma works for the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC), a state-run corporation. Though the CBI has found several Indian and international cricketers "guilty" of fixing matches at the instance of bookies they cannot be charged with either gambling or cheating, the CBI has admitted in its report. No charges can be filed against the other cricketers "because of the nebulous position" of the law, the report says, basing its findings on the legal opinion offered by former Supreme Court Judge M K Mukherjee and Solicitor General Harish Salve. Holding that the two cricketers (Azharuddin and Sharma) were "undoubtedly public servants" within the meaning of the anti-corruption law, Mr Mukherjee said that "simply being a public servant or while holding office as a public servant he can be liable for prosecution if the actions mentioned therein are committed by him." Mr Salve was also in "broad agreement" that no charges of cheating or gambling could be brought against the two cricketers. He, however, ruled out summoning the two players again. "We are not planning to summon them again. However, we have not closed our enquiry into match-fixing. We hope that after reading the report experts and others would come forward in giving us information regarding match-fixing involving others or might give us some proof against them," he said. "We have been entrusted a task and we will finish it. We hope that after reading the report many people would come forward and give us proof that could nail the guilty persons," Mr Sawani said. He denied that the CBI had based its report solely on the testimony of one bookie, M K Gupta, who has been named by former South African skipper Hansie Cronje as having offered him bribes to fix matches. "We had questioned 207 bookies to come to a conclusion. But yes most of the evidence found against cricketers is based on the testimony of M K Gupta. He has emerged as the top bookie," he added. On the transfer of foreign exchange by bookies through illegal means to foreign countries, Mr Sawani said that should be examined by the Enforcement Directorate. "They should see whether a case under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) could be made against them," he added.
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India Abroad News Service
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